Even though there is no remedy for Alzheimer's disease yet, individuals living with this diagnosis can still live their best life. A care plan created by the doctor, the family caregiver and the person with Alzheimer's disease can provide valuable support to these patients; from prescribed medications that may ease symptoms over time to regular check-ups monitoring any progression of condition or new challenges, such as behavioral and psychological symptoms.
Additionally, extra attention should be placed on other conditions such as depression or vision/hearing impairment which might arise due to Alzheimer's Disease - so that affected individuals stay healthy both physically & mentally, for as long as possible. The primary goal is to help your loved one with Alzheimer's disease remain independent for as long a period possible.
Facts about Alzheimer’s Disease
Myths about Alzheimer’s disease still exist. This is due to its relatively new emergence as a disease. It is rapidly growing into epidemic proportions. Due to the growing aging population there are over one million new cases of Alzheimer disease diagnosed each year in the US.
Many most people consider moderate to severe memory loss as a “natural part of aging”. This is not the case. Some memory impairment is expected due to age-related shrinkage of various brain areas. As we age, cognitive decline can result from health conditions unrelated to the brain, such as cardiovascular disease, hearing loss and even diabetes. These are treatable conditions the can prevent or reverse dementia symptoms.
Another myth that is slowly being recognized and disbelieved is that only elderly people can develop Alzheimer’s.
Early onset Alzheimer’s disease can strike people as young as 30. A condition primarily resulting from inheriting genes associated with AD.
Patients with Alzheimer's disease who are under the age of 50… are usually put on an treatment plan that consists of AChE inhibitors. These may be an Exelon patch or Aricept. Both are designed to address mild to moderate symptoms of dementia. They work by slowing the unrelenting development of Alzheimer’s disease progression.
Alzheimer's Disease versus Normal Memory Problems
According to the Alzheimer’s association website … 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s vs. normal memory concerns are common.
The signs and symptoms that will indicate Alzheimer's Disease are:
- Marked disruption of daily life due to memory and cognitive issues
- Inability to solve problems that once presented little difficulty
- Inability to follow through and complete familiar tasks
- Confusion regarding place and/or time
- Spatial relationships and images are often misunderstood or perceived wrongly
- Trouble writing and speaking clearly
- Frequently misplacing often-used items such as keys, money and credit cards
- Exhibiting poor judgment. Ot failing recognize something that is dangerous or fake . a good example is elderly people being “scammed” into giving large sums of cash to strangers)
- Becoming more socially Avoiding social activities that were once enjoyable
- Disconcerting personality and mood changes
Treat Alzheimer's Disease with Medications
Currently, treatments for Alzheimer's help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with memory loss and cognitive difficulties. By targeting a brain chemical that helps nerve cells communicate between brain cells, these treatments make an impact --- but only temporary as more cells continue to deteriorate over time. Ultimately, this results in a worsening of the condition due to ongoing cellular death caused by Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer's Disease causes progressive damage to the brain over time. As beta-amyloid protein accumulates, then form plaques in the brain. The amyloid deposits destroy valuable nerve cells leading to memory loss and confusion.
Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease is focused on helping people manage its symptoms so that they can live a fruitful life. To help with cognitive decline, cholinesterase inhibitors and NMDA receptor antagonists are often prescribed medications.
Additionally, other drugs may be used to tackle the common associated issues such as depression or anxiety which arise from this unfortunate condition.
Cholinesterase inhibitors have been approved by the FDA to help treat dementia, which affects cognitive functioning in those with Alzheimer's disease. These drugs work by preserving acetylcholine – a key neurotransmitter required for optimum brain communication. It helps the nerve cells communicate between each other.
Outcomes of treatment may be mixed, however, and any improvements noticed tend to be modest and subtle. The majority of these medication types prescribed are given specifically for Alzheimer’s related cases - making them an important choice when looking at care options surrounding this condition or similar medical issues that affect cognitive health.
The most common cholinesterase inhibitor prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease are:
- Razadyne (galantamine)
- Exelon (rivastigmine)
- Aricept (donepezil)
Side Effects are mild. You might experience nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and lightheadedness while using these drugs.
NMDA Receptor Antagonists
Namenda (memantine) is an FDA approved medication that has become the go-to drug for helping those with Alzheimer’s disease. It blocks a brain chemical messenger called glutamate. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that, when existing at excessive levels in the brain, causes overstimulation of neurons and destroys them through a process called excitotoxity Too much glutamate can damage brain cells.
Mood and memory are regulated by neurotransmitters. Serotonin and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters. There are severely curtailed amounts as a result of mass brain cell death in most areas of the brain.
Less than one percent of patients taking Memantine experience adverse side effects such as… insomnia, dizziness, headache or nausea.
Currently, Memantine is also being used in trials for relief from… GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), Tourette’s, ADHD and migraine headaches.
To improve the treatment of Alzheimer’s, a combination capsule consisting of two drugs—cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine—was approved by the FDA in 2014. Clinical studies indicate an improved response to this dual-drug approach compared with when cholinesterase inhibitors are taken alone. This is used to create severe Alzheimer's disease.
Aduhelm To Treat Alzheimer's Disease
On June 7, 2021, history was made as the FDA granted accelerated approval for Aduhelm to be used in treating Alzheimer's Disease. Following controversy and an application by Biogen on July 8th , they revised their label with indications that it should only prescribed to those suffering from mild cognitive impairment or dementia - both conditions are hard to diagnose but this breakthrough news is a beacon of hope for many patients who now have legal access!
UPDATE on Aduhelm
On April 7, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its final national coverage decision regarding the anti-amyloid immunotherapy drug Aduhelm. The language of the coverage determination is complex and legal and regulatory experts are still working to understand all of its implications. On May 3, 2022, Biogen announced that it is shutting down the commercialization unit supporting Aduhelm, effectively removing it from the market, and will be revamping its drug development pipeline. United Healthcare, the nation’s largest provider of Medicare Advantage plans, announced it would follow the lead of CMS and severely restrict coverage of Aduhelm; Blue Cross Blue Shield had already made a similar announcement, closing the door on the last possibility of widespread payor coverage. However, Biogen, in partnership with Eisai, will continue to pursue the commercialization of anti-amyloid immunotherapy lecanemab.***
Medications That Treat Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease
While drugs like cholinesterase inhibitors and NMDA receptor antagonists can slow down the progression of memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s, there are other treatments available to help manage the behavioural and psychological symptoms. These may include antidepressants for managing depression and anxiety as well as anticonvulsants such as Neurontin (gabapentin) prescribed in cases of aggressive behavior.
Use of Antipsychotics in Later Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer's disease can cause severe behavioral symptoms like hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. To reduce the intensity of these symptoms, doctors may prescribe antipsychotics such as Seroquel (quetiapine) or Risperdal (risperidone). Although they are effective in managing challenging behavior problems associated with Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to note that side effects such as confusion may occur. For this reason a doctor will only give you an antipsychotic if your condition warrants immediate treatment and aim to keep any prescription duration short term.
In moderate to severe Alzheimer’s the brain is severely atrophied. Neuronal loss has devastated the ability of the mind to control the body.
The patient experiences the:
Inability to walk
This often forces placement of a family member with Alzheimer's into a 24-hour nursing facility.
Hallucinations and aggressive behavior frequently accompany these debilitating symptoms. Physicians may prescribe antipsychotic medication to alleviate the discomfort of experiencing agitated emotions.
Risperdal and Zyprexa are two of the more commonly prescribed antipsychotics. They may relieve agitation and psychotic symptoms. AChE inhibitors do not alleviate the severe dementia found in late-stage AD patients.
What Happens If You Stop Taking Your Alzheimer's Disease Medications?
When it comes to Alzheimer's medication, be sure to get your doctor’s go-ahead before making any changes. Abruptly stopping the drug may worsen symptoms or create additional withdrawal effects. Your healthcare provider can determine if the lowest dose is an appropriate course of action based on severity of side effects and overall health status; however, short term use has been suggested for some drugs when treating cognitive decline due to potential issues with longterm usage. Despite this information from researchers, dementia remains a difficult issue people living with Alzheimer's must face daily - so seek medical advice first!
It's important to note In a 2021 scientific study, scientists found it more beneficial to continue taking cholinesterase inhibitors at all stages of Alzheimer’s disease than to stop the medication.
Potential Treatments in The Works
Treatment for Alzheimer’s disease currently undergoing clinical trials is called IVIG/Gammagard. It is an immune therapy produced by Baxter International. It seems to prevent further cognitive decline in Alzheimer's Disease patients over a period of three years.
A St Louis-based, Washington University School of Medicine, reports that immune therapy is being studied in a clinical trial as a possible method for preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Neurological findings have determined that brain changes can begin early in life. As much as 25 years before people begin to show symptoms of the disease process.
Alzheimer's Disease New Treatments On The Horizon
With the current knowledge on Alzheimer's Disease, scientists are optimistic about creating treatments that could halt or slow its advancement. These potential solutions focus on halting fundamental processes of the illness and may involve multiple medications like those used for cancer and HIV/AIDS sufferers. Researchers are closely evaluating some treatment options to determine their effectiveness in managing this devastating condition.
Scientists have made major progress in their search for treatments of Alzheimer's disease. Through innovative strategies, such as using monoclonal antibodies to mimic the body's natural response and remove beta-amyloid protein plaques from the brain, researchers were able to develop Aduhelm (aducanumab), a groundbreaking new drug that was approved by the FDA earlier this year! This is an exciting development in providing better care and support those living with early stages of dementia.
Promising news for those affected by early Alzheimer's - lecanemab, a new medicine being reviewed by the FDA, has been found effective in slowing cognitive decline. Results from the largest so far clinical trial study on preventing abnormal beta amyloid plaques clumping showed that this drug could improve cognition up to 27%! Even more encouraging is research into how it may help people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s who have a first-degree relative with within their family history
While solanezumab hasn't had much success in treating mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, Donanemab shows promise as it enters a critical phase 3 study. With the potential for beneficial effects earlier on in the development of this devastating condition, scientists are running tests to see if Donamenb can help those affected by Alzheimer’s before symptoms become severe. In addition, research has indicated that when administered correctly and safely, patients consuming either Solanezumab or Donamenb show no serious adverse reactions - making these effective treatments even more compelling!
Saracatinib, a drug initially developed for cancer treatment, has been tested in mice and was found to reverse memory loss associated with age-related diseases! Excitingly, human trials are now under way as researchers hope this new drug could be an effective therapy for treating Alzheimer’s disease.
Beta Amyloid Blockers Recent studies have shown that traditional methods of reducing the formation of beta-amyloid in the brain with drugs like beta and gamma secretase inhibitors are not as effective, nor do they come without negative side effects. Scientists continue to look for new ways to slow down cognitive decline in those living with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
Waiting for Treatment Options and a Cure
With treatment options for Alzheimer's limited, the Coalition Against Major Diseases (CAMD) is working to change that. Through a groundbreaking partnership and by collaborating with CDISC to create data standards, CAMD has actively accelerated development of effective treatments through sharing critical clinical trial data from more than 6500 study participants' experiences. This initiative could potentially be life-changing for those affected by this devastating diagnosis – bringing much needed hope in the form of new medicines!
Researchers have yet to find that elusive antidote to cure Alzheimer’s disease. The hope is that within the next decade… medications preventing the progression of the disease will be found. The hope is… eliminating the development of the devastating effects of late-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
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